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An alternative packing guide: the do’s and don’ts for incoming freshers

Can you hear the rumble?

That’s the sound of hordes of hope filled 18-year olds charging towards Ikea, clutching ‘uni essentials’ lists and dragging along cash machines – I mean parents – towards dorm room decoration paradise. You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that first term begins next month for thousands of new students. Every webpage and shop from Amazon to John Lewis are plastered with banners encouraging customers to explore their university checklists before packing for the all-important move. 

It’s really a great marketing scheme to take advantage of these excitable but naïve kids and their middle-class parents, who are so happy their kids are talking to them that they’ll shell out £50 for fairy lights. Yet take it from a final year student, you’re really better served saving that money you’d have spent on a rug and using it to by your new flatmates drinks, to bribe them early on into being your friends.

I knew a girl that actually made a Pinterest board of decoration ideas, involving various hanging plants and polaroid presentations, to design the ultimate cosy dorm room. Yet whilst this was undoubtedly intended to impress, it ended up just being impractical when the lad she brought home after a night out clubbing proceeded to chunder on her fluffy white bedding.  The yellow stains never came out.

So here is the alternative list of what you should and shouldn’t bring, that no one else will tell you.

Don’t bring:

  • Condoms: The number one free item on university campuses and given out in welcome packs, by advertising companies, every health centre, and societies such as LGBT+ Pride. As financial experts say those little purchases add up, so utilise the freebies and practice safe sex.
  • Toaster: I don’t know why John Lewis markets toasters so hard, but I’ve seen freshers be fooled. If your rent includes a kitchen, basic appliances will be provided. If you choose to bring a sandwich press prepare for your flatmates to never clean it and also break it; you must understand this risk.
  • TV or Games Console: Your first year of university should be spent experiencing new things, meeting new people, and going out as much as possible. Installing items that encourage you to live in your room is a bit sad. Second year is for living out and settling down, don’t rush the process and leave the Xbox at home.
  • Candles: Whilst candles are banned from most halls anyway as a fire hazard, people still often use them. As someone whose halls was evacuated because a girl set fire to her curtains and then the entire corridor by forgetting about her incense, it’s not worth the risk. If you want a nice smelling room and not a damages payment plan with the university get an air freshener.

You’re really better served saving that money you’d have spent on a rug and using it to by your new flatmates drinks

Do bring:

  • Lamp: Check on the university website first, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be supplied with anything other than harsh overhead lighting. Bring a lamp so that you don’t always feel like you’re in a classroom or prison.
  • Laundry Hamper: Some students prefer to allow their dirty laundry to pile up across their floor and use the sniff test to determine what is clean. If you ever want people to hang out in your room, it can’t smell of old underwear. Pop up laundry hampers will last you the year and cost about a quid.
  • Extension Lead: Legend has it that Cryfield accommodation is modelled after a Swedish women’s prison, so don’t trust that the design of your halls will make sense or be comfortable. Get an extension lead so you can watch Netflix in bed or charge your laptop at your desk.
  • Bluetooth Speaker: There is nothing more depressing than walking into predrinks and finding that the only music to get hyped to will be the tinny sound of Drake coming from a laptop. Bluetooth speakers are relatively cheap and can get extremely loud, mine was waterproof and rubber so withstood falling off the table and into a jug of coke. They’re also great for filtering music through a room for revision or chill vibes.

Despite all this, it’s important to remember that your memories at university will be defined by the experiences you have and not the stuff you own. So try not to stress about fitting everything you own into the back of a car, and focus more on not being eaten alive in freshers.  


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